Hubris

The other day, I wrote about how I identify as a knitter despite my greatly diminished knitting productivity in recent years.  I also think of myself as an incurable empiricist. I may have a weakness for sci-fi and fantasy but in my heart of hearts, I do not believe in anything for which there is no scientifically-based evidence to support it.  I don't believe in the supernatural, fate, reincarnation, or tasty gluten-free pastries.  These things are all just wishful thinking, as far as I can tell. Yet I still (secretly) harbour the notion that the universe demands balance in all things.  This belief may be a vestige of my religious upbringing or, just as likely, it's a hypothesis I have developed after unconsciously carrying on a statistical analysis of personal data collected from the time I was aware that jumping from high places always ended in tears no matter how fun it seemed at the time.

My hypothesis is basically Newton's Third Law of Motion--the one that we become aware of intuitively, if imperfectly, from about the age of three, that an action causes an equal and opposite reaction--but applied to everything. I've always had the tendency to look at an unpleasant event and try to discover the cause of it. This is a useful learning tool as you're growing up and figuring out how the world works, but it can go too far and one might find herself looking for connections that likely don't exist between two things. Likely, but not impossible.  Let's look at yesterday as a case in point.

Yesterday, I went to downtown Toronto to meet up with some people.  It's something I do less of these days although I swore I wouldn't abandon the core after I moved to suburbia.  I also swore I wasn't going to buy more yarn, yet here I am, delightedly awaiting an online order from that insidious loveknitting.com.  But that's a post for another day.  Let me skip to the part where I was bombed by a bird, or more likely, a flock of birds.   I never saw the offending party/parties because I was just too stunned at the moment of realization to do anything but stare in disbelief at the coverage these rats of the air achieved.  It defied all logic, truly.

I was like Keanu Reeves being filmed in bullet time in The Matrix, except instead of multiple cameras positioned around an uber-cool hero precisely timed to capture a 360º view of a moment in time, it was multiple birds instantly deploying a tactical formation around an unsuspecting no one who only thought she was uber-cool and instead of shooting images, they were shooting precisely timed and copious volumes of Toronto waste that had spent a day travelling through their birdly digestive systems, onto my very self, all four limbs of me, all 360º of me.  Birds cannot be that smart, right? I mean, we have terms such as "birdbrain" and "featherbrain" for a reason and unless they have some sort of psychic link that allows them to coordinate their bowel movements with such precision, I don't think they could have pulled this off.  Hence my suspicion that a force greater than Mother Nature had a hand in my tragedy in one act.

Another tendency I have, and a completely useless one I might add as I have not yet come into possession of a time machine, is to make an exhaustive list of all the things I could have done differently in the preceding hours or days to have prevented the terrible event. Especially in this case where a mere handful of seconds may have spared my outfit and my pride.  Here is a selection from a much longer list:

  1. Vanity.  Had I just not bothered with applying makeup or had just been content with a lot less of it, I would not have felt quite so preening (pride doth come before a fall), and I would certainly have been out the door and past that particular, fateful stretch of sidewalk at least 10 minutes earlier.
  2. Greed, not enough.  Had I just stuck to my original plan to make a quick stop at the Eaton Centre to do a little shopping, I would never have needed to leave the relative safety of the PATH at all since my meet-up was also underground.  But, as the Universe was playing dirty, it reminded me that I didn't want to risk running late because I had after all been attempting to rehabilitate my image as someone who is perpetually late for everything
  3. Sloth.  Had I not taken one extra stop to spare myself a little extra walking, I would not have been on that street at all
  4. Smugness.  Had I just taken my usual shortcut through a parking lot, I would have narrowly avoided the storm. Instead, I continued along the block to take a gander at the new condo development on the corner and gloat that I fled for the burbs before that monstrosity broke ground and overshadowed my old condo next door*
  5. Impatience.  Had I not been impatient, I would not have tried to dodge past the nice but slow, lovey-dovey couple taking up most of the sidewalk in front of me.  (In my defense, I am possibly physically incapable of walking at a moderate pace.) It was the exact moment of my overtaking them on the sidewalk that I met my slimy punishment.  I hope that couple will be naming their first-born after me because I, without a doubt, delivered them from the horrors that ensued
  6. Knitting.  Had I not written my first post about how my knitting mojo seems to have abandoned me and how I'd like to get back to knitting, I would not have been motivated to spend time putting together a little on-the-go knitting project for my subway ride.  I had a perfectly good book to read and one that I need to finish soon in order to not sound like an idiot to my 8-year old nephew when I pretend that I know all about how to use the Japanese soroban. (He is a boy-genius and it takes him about 3.5 minutes to expose you as a total maths fraud.  I was hoping to stretch it to maybe 5 minutes during my next encounter.)  But no, I decided to knit, despite the fact that I am usually too embarrassed to KIP.  I don't like eyes on me, ever.  Imagine my consternation yesterday when I literally stopped all foot-traffic in a 20m range around me when I lost my marbles.  I'm already scouting out a rock large enough to hide under when the inevitable YouTube video surfaces later today. 

Now, I maintain that I remained remarkably calm given the magnitude of this calamity, but my husband tells it differently.  This is a failing of husbands that even my most wonderful and most perfect of all husbands occasionally exhibits, and that is the inability to gauge appropriate response to a situation, especially when we're talking about me getting bombed by birds.  He did, however, concede that the utter thoroughness of these birds was nothing short of remarkable.  He wasn't actually on the scene at the time, but he did have the misfortune of being only blocks away and therefore the first person I called in my distress and the person compelled to obey when I (very calmly) declared and then repeated several times, I NEED A SHIRT. STAT.

On inspection, we discovered that not only did these birds (or one solitary roc) get both my forearms, both my shoulders, the front of my shirt, my vintage Georg Jensen necklace, the back of my hair, the fronts of both my legs AND the sides of my calves, they (it?) got all four corners of my sizeable purse.  After my husband marvelled over this and despite my entirely objective account of the incident, he speculated that in my panic I had smeared what was just one large dropping onto all these disparate areas, but it didn't require CSI to determine that the splatter pattern did not support his theory.

The Universe gave back in equal measure, which some might call karma; others, causality.  I for one feel that balance has been restored and I am duly humbled.  I will endeavour to be less prideful, more patient, and if that fails, I'll never pack knitting-to-go again.

P.S. Aside from learning some valuable life lessons, the other upside has been that I spent a little time knitting this morning to console myself after yesterday's misadventure (and the subsequent hours of disinfecting my purse and clothing and of scrubbing off my top layer of skin).  I also convinced myself that a bit of happy knitting in the form of a Little Cotton Rabbits pattern might serve dual purposes as both a sort of spiritual balm and a gift for a lovely friend.  I even picked up my camera and snapped a photo!

Promising starts in knitting, Little Cotton Rabbits Girl Bunny pattern


Footnotes

* My husband helpfully pointed out that my desire to live closer to nature was a factor in our decision to migrate to suburbia, and gee, wouldn't it have been nice to just step upstairs to shower and get a change of clothes?  My response is that if I still lived two blocks away from the scene of the crime, it would have necessitated more of those convenient jaunts upstairs because the one and only other time I was bombed by a bird (albeit, in much less dramatic fashion) was also two blocks from our condo.